European films

In the Fade film review: Diane Kruger goes after neo-Nazi terrorists in tragic revenge drama

Filmmaker Fatih Akin’s thoughts about racism and the legal system get lost in a story which becomes less believable the longer it goes on, but a top performance by Diane Kruger as an embittered widow keeps interest going

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 6:00pm

3/5 stars

In the Fade, which focuses on a terrorist act committed by a neo-Nazi organisation in Europe, works well as a courtroom drama about the legal difficulties of bringing some guilty bombers to justice. But the tail end of the film degenerates into a by-the-numbers revenge drama that is more suited to a B-movie than a work of serious cinema.

Whatever point filmmaker Fatih Akin (Head-On, The Edge of Heaven) is making about racism and the legal system becomes lost in a story which becomes less credible the longer it goes on. Only an expressive performance by Diane Kruger as an embittered widow keeps the attention.

The Germany-set story revolves around Katja (Kruger), a self-described housewife whose Kurdish husband, Nuri (Numan Acar), and child are killed in a targeted bomb attack. Katja realises she saw the killer Hanna (Edda Moller) plant the bomb and identifies her.

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Hanna is arrested, identified as a member of a far-right group which targets immigrants, and brought to trial. But Nuri’s past imprisonment for dealing drugs, and Katja’s own cocaine use, discredit her testimony, and she ends up taking the law into her own hands.

Far from decrying the German legal system, In the Fade presents it in a good light. Although her guilt is never in doubt, the evidence against the bomber is circumstantial, and conviction rests wholly on the accuracy of Katja’s memory of a quick interchange with the suspect. Why the German police and Katja’s lawyer do such a bad job of compiling conclusive evidence is never addressed, however.

In the Fade opens on May 3

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